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United Arab Emirates is using cloud seeding tech to make it rain

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How does a desert turn green?

Rising global temperatures have added a strain on regions like the Middle East, which is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

These nations are now faced with a big problem, how can they solve their water shortage issues? 

The United Arab Emirates averages less than 200 millimeters of rainfall a year, in stark contrast to London’s average of 1,051 millimeters and Singapore’s 3,012 millimeters.

In the UAE, temperatures can reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122° Fahrenheit) during the Summer, where 80% of the country’s landscape is covered with desert terrain. 

Extreme heat could exacerbate water scarcity issues and impose restraints on agricultural productivity in the country. 

The United Nations projects that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will face absolute water scarcity across the world. The Middle East stood out as one of the most water-stressed areas with around 83% of the population in the region prone to experiencing high levels of water stress. 

With water scarcity at the core of the region’s challenges, the Gulf state implemented a program aimed at addressing this issue. 

Introduction of cloud seeding

In the 1990s, the UAE introduced a rain enhancement methodology called cloud seeding. Cloud seeding is the process of increasing the amount of rain produced from the clouds above, which is designed to improve water shortage issues in arid regions around the emirate. 

A view of the UAE city of Al Ain during a cloud-seeding mission on January 31, 2024 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. 

Andrea Dicenzo | Getty Images News | Getty Images

By the early 2000s, Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the vice president of the UAE, allocated up to $20 million for research into cloud seeding. The UAE partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and NASA to set up the methodology for the cloud seeding program.

The government introduced a task force called The National Center of Meteorology (NCM) in Abu Dhabi where more than 1,000 hours of cloud seeding is performed each year to enhance rainfall. 

The NCM has a weather radar network and more than 60 weather stations where it manages seeding operations in the country and closely monitors atmospheric conditions.

How it works

Weather forecasters at the center can observe precipitation patterns in clouds and identify suitable clouds to seed, with the aim of increasing the rate of rainfall.

Once they spot the right cloud, they instruct pilots to take to the air with their specialized aircrafts loaded with hygroscopic flares on the plane’s wings. 

= A ground engineer restocking one of the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology cloud-seeding planes with new Hygroscopic salt flares on January 31, 2024 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. 

Andrea Dicenzo | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Each flare contains about 1 kilogram of salt material components and can take up to three minutes to burn and shoot into the right clouds. After the seeding agent is introduced into the cloud, the droplets increase in size, surpassing the cloud’s capacity to sustain them against gravity, resulting in their release as raindrops.

Seeding agents

Skeptics have long argued that governments who have introduced weather modification techniques to their skies are “playing God.”

During a visit to the NCM, General Director Abdulla Al Mandous told CNBC that the technology is “based on scientific background.”

Al Mandous added that Abu Dhabi’s program does not use silver iodide, a common crystal-like material used as a seeding agent in other countries. This material has been widely criticized for potential harmful effects on the environment and the public, however, some cloud seeding studies show there has been no substantial evidence to prove that at current levels it poses any toxic effects. 

The NCM said it does not use any harmful chemicals in its operations. “Our specialized aircrafts only use natural salts, and no harmful chemicals,” the organization told CNBC.

Al Mandous said the center started manufacturing its own seeding agent called nano material, a fine salt coated with titanium oxide, which is more effective than what it uses currently. 

“It will give us three times more effective results than the hygroscopic flares,” he said.

The nano material is presently undergoing trials and experimentation in various atmospheres, both in the UAE and the U.S.

 

 



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Ex-Post Office boss regrets ‘missed opportunity’ to halt Horizon scandal

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“On reflection, and I have reflected on this very hard, when I finished being the Horizon programme director [in early 2000] it would have been very beneficial if I had notified both the lawyers and the [investigations team] that Horizon was a new system coming in, and that they should be very cautious about evidence coming out of that system,” he said.



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Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and debt restructuring efforts By Reuters

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COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s government rejected a proposal from its international bondholders on Tuesday on restructuring the more than $12 billion the country owes to them.

It means a near two-year spell in default will drag on for Sri Lanka and that the country’s next tranche of vital IMF support money could potentially get delayed.

Below is a timeline of the key events in the crisis and the efforts to resolve it:

2021-2022: Sri Lanka’s economy crumbles after years of overspending leaves its foreign exchange reserves critically low and the government unable to pay for essentials, such as fuel and medicine.

The country’s bonds suffer from multiple downgrades by credit rating agencies warning of the increasing risk of default. At the start of 2022 it manages to make a $500 million bond payment but it leaves its foreign exchange reserves precariously low.

MAY, 2022 – Sri Lanka is declared in default after it fails to make a smaller $78 million bond coupon payment.

JULY, 2022 – Public anger drives protesters to storm then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office and residence. Rajapaksa flees to the Maldives, before moving on to Singapore.

Current President Ranil Wickremesinghe is voted into power by Sri Lankan lawmakers.

MARCH, 2023 – The International Monetary Fund approves a near $3 billion bailout for Sri Lanka after talks with Wickremesinghe’s government and assurances about its plans to repair the country’s finances.

OCTOBER, 2023

Sri Lanka announces an agreement with China’s EXIM (export/import) Bank to delay payments on about $4.2 billion worth of loans the Chinese lender it has extended to the country.

NOVEMBER, 2023

Other creditor nations including India, Japan and France agree to restructure about $5.9 billion in debt.

MARCH, 2024

A group of Sri Lankan officials arrives in London to meet with a number of investment funds that hold its more than $12 billion worth of government bonds. Talks advance to the key “restricted” phase where proposals are discussed privately and those involved agree not to buy or sell any of the debt on the open market.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view of the main business district as rain clouds gather above in Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

APRIL, 2024

The government rejects a proposal tabled by the bondholders. The main stumbling blocks are that some the “baseline” assumptions used differ to those of the IMF and that the plan did not include a contingency option for the government in case the economy fails to recover as expected.





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AI could gobble up a quarter of all electricity in the U.S. by 2030 if it doesn’t break its addiction

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Before artificial intelligence can transform society, the technology will first have to learn how to live within its means.

Right now generative AI have an “insatiable demand” for electricity to power the tens of thousands of compute clusters needed to operate large language models like OpenAI’s GPT-4, warned chief marketing officer Ami Badani from chip design company Arm Holdings. 

If generative AI is ever going to be able to run on every mobile device from a laptop and tablet to a smartphone, it will have to be able to scale without overwhelming the electricity grid at the same time.

“We won’t be able to continue the advancements of AI without addressing power,” Badani told Fortune’s Brainstorm AI conference in London on Monday. “ChatGPT requires 15 times more energy than a traditional web search.” 

Not only are more businesses using generative AI, but the tech industry is in a race to develop new and more powerful tools that will mean compute demand is only going to grow—and power consumption with it, unless something can be done. 

The latest breakthrough from OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, is Sora. It can create super realistic or stylized clips of video footage up to 60 seconds in length purely based on user text prompts. 

The marvel of GenAI comes at a steep cost

“It takes a 100,000 AI chips working at full compute capacity and full power consumption in order to train Sora,” Badani said. “That’s a huge amount.” 

Data centers, where most AI models are trained, currently account for 2% of global electricity consumption, according to Badani. But with generative AI expected to go mainstream, she predicts it could end up devouring a quarter of all power in the United States in 2030.

The solution to this conundrum is to develop semiconductor chips that are optimized to run on a minimum of energy.

That’s where Arm comes in: its RISC processor designs currently run on 99% of all smartphones, as opposed to the rival x86 architecture developed by Intel. The latter has been a standard for desktop PCs, but proved too inefficient to run battery-powered handheld devices like smartphones and tablets. 

Arm is adopting that same design philosophy for AI.

“If you think about AI, it comes with a cost,” Badani said, “and that cost is unfortunately power.”  

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